BEST OF THREE
Top 3 Indian bowling performances in Tests post 2001
Test matches are mainly won not only by tons, double tons or triple tons, but by the ability of team to take 20 wickets within 5 days. However it is unfortunate that in most cases a bowler’s feat goes unnoticed in the wake of a exceptional batting performance. Take this for example, all of us know that in the historic Kolkata Test of 2001 Australia assault was halted thanks to VVS Laxman’s legendary knock of 281, but how many of us know that Harbhajan Singh scalped a hat trick on that very match? Sourav Ganguly’s century at Brisbane in 2003 is admired for its grit on a bouncy Gabba, but few are aware that Zaheer Khan exploited that very bounce for a five-wicket haul. (This is based on the answers I got on interviewing several cricket fans) whether it is the fact that India has not had many bowling idols or the fact that most Indian bowlers have had a short shelf-life and are considered dispensable, it remains regrettable that we forget good bowling performance too soon. Here is a list of the Top 3 bowling performances by Indian bowlers in tests post 2001.
1. Zaheer Khan’s 9 for 134
It was the second test of the Pataudi Trophy Played at Trent Bridge, Nottingham against England in the year 2007 and is probably best remembered for 2 things – The foundation of India’s first series win in England and Jelly Beans! But the highlight of the match was Zaheer Khan’s utterly devastating spell which claimed 4 wickets in the first innings and a fifer in the second bringing India to victory. Zaheer seamed, swung it both ways and was as potent with the old ball as with the new to trouble English batsmen no end to get them out for 198 and 335 respectively. Not to forget he had avenge the silly jelly bean prank which the facile English players had to resort to in order to get back at him ( while he was batting, because they hapless while he was bowling!) India went on to win the test by 7 wickets and Zaheer was adjudged not just the Man of the Match, but the Man of the Series as well.
2. Harbhajan Singh’s 15 for 217
Never has a rookie bowler so absolutely dominated the mighty Australian team as a 20 years old Harbhajan Singh in 2001. Included in the side on skipper Ganguly’s insistence, he paid of his captain’s faith when he became the chief architect of destruction with 32 wickets and Man of the Series Award. Despite a match-winning hat trick at Kolkata, I believe it was his performance in the third Test at Chennai which is his best to date with 7 wickets in the first innings and 8 in the second. His superlative effort earned him not 1 but 4 place in top 100 bowling performances of all time conducted by Wisden, the most for any bowler. It was since this series that Harbhajan became the first choice spinner along with Anil Kumble.
3. Anil Kumble’s 12 for 279
While most people remember the 4th Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Sydney in 2004 for Sachin Tendulkar’s eloquent 241, this was also the match that Anil Kumble showed his brilliance even on bouncy Australian tracks. His guile foxed the Aussie batsmen and even though he went for runs he got the most Aussie batsmen when they threatened to post a mammoth total and run away with the match. India did not mange to win the match which ended in a draw, but India did draw the series for the first time Down Under.